My goal is to write one 'Pattern Recognition' a week. Just the top 3-4 stories that stayed under my skin. Here's what stuck this week:
- Apple Vindicated: What protection does the industry's innovator merit against shameless knock-off artists? Does anyone really want to argue that what Apple has created is NOT uniquely proprietrary? That it merits less consideration than a Gucci bag or a new erection pill? Yes, I get it. Our patent laws suck, and there are ridiculous numbers of frivolous lawsuits, but Apple v. Samsung is not one of them. Feel free to pick apart this aspect or that of the IP that Apple is claiming, but know this. Apple has built proprietary differentiation, and by simple sniff test logic, they've earned the right to protection. It's not a god-given right that I can enter your house, eat from your refrigerator and not pay for it. To me, there is justice in this ruling; and vindication for The Legacy of Steve Jobs. No less, it's one year to the day from when he resigned as CEO of Apple. Talk about tributes!
- Retail Schadenfreude: I love retail. My first career was in retail real estate. My brother is a shopping center developer. I can wax poetic about the magistry of Cheesecake Factory. But, I also love Amazon, and feel that they are a great retailer, and consistent innovator. Obviously, bricks and mortar has a place, wherever it can create differentiation. Otherwise, it will get Amazon'd on price. That's why I have little pity for Staples, just as I had little pity for Circuit City or CompUSA before that. These are businesses that either never had heart (CompUSA and Circuit City), or simply lost it (Staples); who killed the Mom and Pop just because they could. Now, Amazon is killing the Big Box. Karma's a bitch, isn't it?
- The Disruptive Paradox: In the movie 'Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten,' a documentary about the life of the founder of The Clash, there is a great line uttered by Bono talking about the vibe in England and Dublin in the 70s. Bono says, "I was frightened...I was excited." That sentiment is applicable to our present time. Many, many industries in a deeply screwed mode. A completely unhealthy, ineffectual political system. Oh, and institutionalized conflicts of interests between Big Business and the government apparatus (I am intentionally distiguishing between Policy Creation and Policy Adminstration). Yet, something HAS to give. The patient will not simply get better with time. You can look at this pessimistically, and with cynicism. Or, you can be a little scared, but also be excited. Because we are at the end of a cycle, and approaching the beginning of a new one. It's post-global, post-digital, and post-commoditization. The new cycle is about making the inefficient more efficient, and creating differentiation where commodization exists. This is the 'stop the film and discuss' portion of the program. It stands to reason that some companies will figure this one out, providing the essential case studies for many others to get to the higher ground of re-invention. Be scared. But also be excited.